Bugs on the Runway

[M]yles Sexton flies on the runway with the wings of an elytron, or better known as the “jewel” beetle hanging around his neck. The chain necklace embroidered with the iridescent and glossy deep forest green coloured wings bobs left to right across Sexton’s bare chest as he steps down the catwalk in his nude REmix heels. They are at least five inches tall. He’s done the walk more than 50 times, but never like this—never as the sole designer of the collection on display.

The first pieces that the 21-year-old make-up artist and model finished for this collection were heavily embroidered shoulder pads that clip under the fabric of any clothing. They frustrated him so much that he took a six-month break before getting back to the project.

“Embroidering each piece of wing, one by one, takes so much time and patience and I didn’t properly realize what I was in for when I started,” says Sexton.

Sexton said he knew the shoulder pads would be the most popular design in this collection — and he was right. Eyebrows jump and heads nod as the beetle-winged shoulder pads make their debut on the runway. They glitter on model Chantelle Brown-Young who has symmetrical vitiligo, a condition that leaves skin with depigmented patches. Sexton says he wanted his models for his show to be “unique and beautiful, just like the beetle’s wings.”

Myles Sexton. Photo by Sarah Beach.

Myles Sexton. Photo by Sarah Beach.

Sexton has made jewelry before for his past line called M.SEXTON, which has been worn by celebrities including Grace Jones, Martina from Dragonette and Nelly Furtado.

“This season I decided to change the name of my line from M.Sexton to Myles Sexton. M.Sexton will still be getting its own line of products but will be at a more affordable price point…Myles Sexton is my more high end line of jewelry,” says Sexton.

While this collection isn’t his first experience of designing jewelry, Sexton says that it is his first fully independent design project because it is fully funded, owned and designed by him alone.

“I did it all by myself. Not one person helped me. Every single piece has been embroidered by these hands,” he says looking down at them. With precision and patience, Sexton says he spent at least 12 hours on each piece. The collection took two years to complete.

The brilliantly coloured wings shimmer against the all black clothing designed by Luca Galardo, 20-year-old up and coming fashion designer from Montréal, Canada. Galardo’s line Diodati is one of the sponsors of the show along with Karines, Vitamin Water, Sherwood Digital Copy and Print, Parlour and Lacome Paris.

Sexton says he bases his inspiration on ancient culture. “You look at the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Aztecan, Indian … their jewelry is beautiful, bold and a sign of royalty,” he says. “With this and every collection, I want to take the past and mix it with the future because you know what? I don’t like the present. I want to show what’s next or what’s missing.”

He said jewelry was more unisex is the past than it is today comparing current fashion to the ancient cultures that inspired him. Sexton says he hopes to see that part of the past reoccur. He says labeling identity is “complex” and classifies himself as two-spirited, which to some is a blurred middle ground between man and woman.

Model at Myles Sexton's fashion show. Photo by Sarah Beach.

Model at Myles Sexton’s fashion show. Photo by Sarah Beach.

[A] flickering beetle wing bracelet dangles at the sides of a male model who walks the runway wearing a neck piece and eye patch. A few of the elytra wings cluster on the strap of the eye patch, which is shaped like the wing itself. Sexton didn’t stop at a few when he created the neck piece. Shaped like a “V,” it takes up most of the model’s chest and is almost completely covered with the insect’s wings.

“My pieces are particularly designed for people who aren’t afraid to be themselves and who like to shine in and express themselves through fashion, and that’s something that doesn’t depend on just gender,” says Sexton. For him, the uniqueness and diversity of colour in the wings felt like a good reflection of his brand and who he is.

A collective gasp is heard under the snapping of cameras when his last piece in the collection makes its way to the floor. Sexton’s favourite. A full corset of elytra wings—80 hours of hand embroidery—in its full glory sparkles hues of dark green and reflect hints of indigo and pantone making the corset look like an emerald jewel with every move and turn. The upward placement of the wings mimic leaves and is unique of the downward placement of the wings in the rest of the collection. “That one’s special for sure, it’s my sweat, tears and happiness over this collection boiled down to one,” said Sexton.

Designing jewelry is still new to the designer and not something he said he thought he would do. But one day, on eBay, Sexton came across the beetle wings. He says the wings have a history of being used on garments and are sometimes used in makeup.

“I thought to myself, the only place these wings haven’t been is jewelry,” and that was the only place Sexton hadn’t been either.

Photo by Sarah Beach.

Photo by Sarah Beach.

Photo by Sarah Beach.

Photo by Sarah Beach.

Photo by Sarah Beach.

Photo by Sarah Beach.

Photo by Sarah Beach.

Photo by Sarah Beach.